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Thread: Chlorine Alternatives - Facts & Myths; PROs & CONs

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    Default Chlorine Alternatives - Facts & Myths; PROs & CONs


    Chlorine Alternatives: Facts & Myths; PROs & CONs

    Many pool owners have at least some interest in non-chlorine methods of pool treatment. There are both legitimate and illegitimate reasons for this.

    Legitimate reasons include:
    • While there are no TRUE allergies to chlorine, some people with sensitive skin DO find it irritating.
    • When used to treat OUTDOOR pools, chlorine can disappear rapidly in sunlight. This can be a real problem for pool owners who have to travel.
    • When used to treat INDOOR pools, there are very real problems with volatile chlorinated organics that form when chlorine tries to 'burn up' the 'people goo' (spit, sweat, snot, pee, poop) that inevitably ends up in pools.

    Illegitimate reasons include:
    It's not natural. That's true, but neither is any OTHER method of pool treatment. *note below
    Alternative systems are less expensive than chlorine. The fact is usually the opposite . . . if you look at the complete costs and not just the bit the sales slick highlights.
    Chlorine is dangerous. That's also true, but not relevant. The best way I can explain it is with another example. Asbestos exposure can kill people, via a cancer called mesothelioma. But I can work with asbestos all day long with no risk. Why? Because I'm in my 60's and it takes mesothelioma 40 years to develop! In other words, mesothelioma could kill me . . . but not in my lifetime! [see
    Mesothelioma - Wikipedia ]
    Chlorine alternatives are safer. This might be true . . . but nobody knows. Why? Chlorine's been used for 100+ years. Most of the alternatives have been used for less than 30 . . . so nobody knows what THEIR effects will be in the long run!


    Specific Alternatives

    Minerals / Ionizers
    These are ALL the same thing: they add copper, silver, and/or zinc ions to your pool water. You can do it chemically, adding copper sulfate or silver nitrate (mostly, algeacides). You can do it with electrical ionization (ionizers). You can do it 'auto-magically'. (Nature2, various skimmer pills).

    Copper IS an effective algeacide. Silver is effective against some algae. Copper + silver is sorta effective as a sanitizer . . . but not effective enough to allow you to swim with strangers!

    But there's a gotcha. Ionized pools still need oxidation. And oxidation tends to result in the metals leaving the water and becoming stains or green hair.

    Your mileage may vary. Some pool owners have happily used some of these gizmos for years.
    UV is hot right now (2018). But it's a rip-off for most pools. Why? Because virtually ALL outdoor pools ALREADY have UV! Yep, that's right: sunshine includes more total UV than all but the biggest UV units. It's true, chlorine + UV cleans up 'people goo' much better than chlorine alone. But, unless your pool is indoors or outdoors in England or Washington state, you ALREADY have enough UV!
    Ozone systems are used effectively in large aquariums and German commercial pools. But these systems are complex, expensive, and HAZARDOUS. They require a TRAINED operator full time. Most people don't realize, ozone gas is MORE toxic than chlorine gas!

    But, if you have a US system, you aren't usually in any danger. Why? US systems for pools and spas are intrinsically safe, because they produce so little ozone, that there's no danger to you . . . or to the mess in your pool!


    *Natural pools exist, but they are very complex, only work well in cool climates, and are not based on a specific treatment system or chemical. See http://www.poolforum.com/pf2/showthread.php/14427

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1969

    Default Re: Chlorine Alternatives - Facts & Myths; PROs & CONs

    Great post!
    22'x40' Grecian Lazy L 20K gal IG vinyl pool; Aqua Rite SWCG T15 cell; Hayward Pro Grid 6020 DE filter; Hayward Superpump 1hp pump; 12 hrs; Taylor K-2006; city; PF:6

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